BROADBAND PROMISES FALL SHORT WITH STATE'S $126 MIL PROJECT

(01/09/2013)

Nearly half of W.Va. facilities won't get new fiber; sites scheduled to receive routers only with federal stimulus funds.

Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha says "It appears we orchestrated a train wreck," speaking to Monday's joint House-Senate technology committee meeting.

Also at issue is routers brought for the project that exceeded requirements for the facilities in which they were to be installed, most haven't been installed.

By Eric Eyre
wvgazette.com

CHARLESTON - A $126.3 million federal stimulus project was intended to bring high-speed fiber-optic Internet connections to public facilities across West Virginia, but state officials are now mostly selecting sites that already have fiber and delivering routers instead.

Last week, the state designated 175 new sites as "community anchor institutions" that will receive upgraded Internet service. Only seven of those sites will get high-speed fiber cable. All facilities will get new routers.

"Due to the amount of time required for environmental assessments and fiber builds, we determined that we would limit most of the additional sites to 'router-only' so that we could complete the build on time," said Diane Holley-Brown, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Technology.

Two years ago, former Gov. Joe Manchin's administration promised to use the federal stimulus money to build fiber at 1,064 community anchors -- schools, libraries, health centers, State Police detachments, county courthouses, 911 centers and other public agencies, according to the state's grant application.

But the state is on pace to bring high-speed fiber to just 639 of those 1,064 public facilities. The remaining sites will only get routers, according to a Dec. 21 project report.

Among schools, the state has designated 530 buildings that will receive upgraded Internet service funded by the stimulus. Of those, 60 percent will only get routers because the facilities already have fiber, records show ...

Read the rest, By Eric Eyre for   wvgazette.com


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